By David Baldacci
Warner Books; Largeprint edition (October 26, 2004)
Two disgraced former Secret Service officers team up to solve a series of copy-cat crimes in this exciting new thriller by a master of the game. Sean King was momentarily distracted when a presidential candidate he'd been guarding was assassinated a few feet from where he stood, and Michelle Maxwell left the Service under a similar cloud when she lost a "protectee" to an ingenious kidnapping scheme, events told in Baldacci's typical terse, fast-paced style in Split Second. Now partners in a private investigation firm in a small Virginia town, they're hired to investigate a burglary at the home of a wealthy local family. But even before the chief suspect in the break-in meets his death in a gruesome slaying reminiscent of a serial killer long since caught and punished, King and Maxwell get caught up in a string of other murders, each of which copies the techniques of another madman, from San Francisco's Zodiac Killer to Chicago's infamous John Wayne Gacy. While the two protagonists aren't especially complex or well-developed, the action never stops, and Baldacci's trademark pacing keeps the reader turning pages until the denouement, which unfortunately isn't quite as satisfying as the rest of the novel.